We’re all accustomed by now to the chorus of denial and deflection that erupts in the public square after every act of terrorist violence. But the response by the Canadian media to Sunday night’s shooting in Toronto, in which two girls were killed and several people wounded, seemed especially heroic in its determination to avoid any mention of jihad.
Inevitably, many commentators responded to the atrocity by ranting about gun control. Toronto’s mayor, John Tory, led the way: “Why does anyone in this city need a gun at all?” he asked.
The Globe and Mail ran a 900-word piece by poet and novelist Michael Redhill, who took a poetic — and self-centered — approach: “On Sunday night, while I read a book at 32,000 feet, a man in a black hat began shooting people in the neighbourhood where I live. … I walked with my fellow passengers into the terminal feeling bonded in shock with them.” The site of the murders, an area called the Danforth, “has always been a joyful and protean hodgepodge of restaurants and shops where we’ve always felt safe. … Our last illusion — that it couldn’t happen here — is gone forever.”
Intentionally or not, Redhill echoed London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s notorious remark that terrorism is an inevitable part of living in a metropolis: “Unlived lives haunt big cities such as ours and we can’t expect that the chaos and terror we saw on Sunday night can ever be completely reined in.” Redhill concluded with a touch of what felt like self-consciously sophisticated fatalism: “Who was he? Why did he do it? Could it have been prevented? The familiar unpacking will begin now. It will bring us no closer to the mystery of people like the man in the black hat.”
Meanwhile, over at the Toronto Star, “investigative reporter” Kenyon Wallace described Hussain’s rampage as a “senseless act,” a “tragedy.” “Why, many are inevitably asking, would someone do such a thing?” Can this be true? Are people in Toronto, in this era when the West is constantly being hammered by Islamic massacres, really asking why someone would do such a thing?
Wallace went on to say that since the perpetrator, 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, is dead, “we cannot ask him about his motivations.” Wallace quoted with full credulity from the statement issued by Hussain’s Pakistani immigrant parents. Here it is in its entirety:
We are utterly devastated by the incomprehensible news that our son was responsible for the senseless violence and loss of life that took place on the Danforth.
Our son had severe mental health challenges, struggling with psychosis and depression his entire life. The interventions of professionals were unsuccessful. Medications and therapy were unable to treat him. While we did our best to seek help for him throughout his life of struggle and pain, we could never imagine that this would be his devastating and destructive end.
Our hearts are in pieces for the victims and for our city as we all come to grips with this terrible tragedy. We will mourn those who were lost for the rest of our lives.
Not to be cynical, but does this or does this not sound as if it were crafted by a professional publicist — the kind of person who puts together an eloquent press release on behalf of some semi-literate Hollywood star who’s desperate to get out of a jam?
Other Canadian journalists fixated on this document, accepting (or pretending to accept) it as proof that Hussain’s shooting spree was caused by psychiatric problems, period. But Wallace had another angle to pursue. “Hussain,” he observed, “shared a characteristic in common with many mass murderers, one that has received particular attention in the wake of a string of explicitly misogynistic attacks: he was male.”
He then quoted from Rachel Kalish, “a visiting professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Old Westbury and co-author of an article examining the relationship between masculinity and the concept of aggrieved entitlement” (talk about stellar credentials!), who told him that “if a man is passed over for a job, say, and the job is given to a woman, he may feel like that woman ‘stole his job,’ but it was never actually even his to begin with.”
Kasich further noted “that some men feel they are entitled to women’s attention or women’s bodies.” Recalling the case of Santa Barbara murderer Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in May 2014 because he felt unfairly rejected by the fairer sex, Wallace quoted activist Michael Kaufman to the effect that men are conditioned from childhood to think they’re in charge and that they “can play God.”
What does any of this feminist claptrap have to do with Faisal Hussain, there being absolutely no evidence whatsoever to justify this inane line of analysis?
At least the Toronto Sun mentioned the j-word: “my law-enforcement sources,” wrote columnist Joe Warmington, “confirm investigators are looking at every avenue — including a potential jihadi-inspired mission.”
According to police, Hussain — who had lived for a time in Afghanistan and Pakistan — had “expressed ‘support’ for a website that was seen as ‘pro-ISIL.’” This and other fishy online activity had led the authorities to speak to him. Indeed, reported Warmington, Hussain had been on the radar of the Toronto Police, the Ontario Provincial Police, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Well, that certainly sounds dispositive. But while Warmington was serving up this hard information about Hussain’s jihadist sympathies and shady background (what was he doing all that time in Afghanistan and Pakistan?), virtually every other journalist or public figure in Canada seemed determined to lead the public down this or that garden path –whether by calling for even tighter gun laws, meditating on the mystery of the individual human soul, serving up academic hogwash about toxic masculinity, or embracing the argument that it was all about mental problems. They were willing, in short, to make any argument, however absurd, rather than to acknowledge the manifest possibility that a young ISIS fan named Faisal Hussain might be yet another enemy within, driven to mow down infidels in the name of the caliphate.